Senate passes bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage in historic vote


The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriage, called the Respect for Marriage Act, in a historic bipartisan vote.

The final vote was 61-36. The bill was backed by all members of the Democratic caucus and 12 Republicans, the same dozen GOP members who backed the bill for a procedural vote earlier this month.

The House will now have to approve the legislation before sending it to President Joe Biden’s office to be signed into law. The House is expected to pass the bill before the end of the year – possibly as early as next week.

“For millions of Americans, this legislation will protect the rights and protections to which LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday evening after the Senate passed it, hailing it as an “achievement bipartite”.

Although the bill does not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, it would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage.

So in case the Supreme Court can overturn his 2015 Oberfell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage, a state could still pass a law prohibiting same-sex marriage, but that state would be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state.

The legislation removed a key procedural hurdle earlier this month, when the Senate voted 62 to 37 to bust a filibuster.

The bipartisan group, which includes Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and the Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, previously said in a statement that they “look forward to this bill being considered.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited these five senators for their “outstanding and hard work” on this landmark legislation during a speech on the floor Tuesday morning.

“For millions and millions of Americans, today is a very good day,” he said. “An important day. A day that took a long time to come.

In a sign of the increased support for same-sex marriage in recent years, the bill has found support among GOP senators, including those from deeply red states.

Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told CNN’s Manu Raju earlier this month that she voted to advance the Senate same-sex marriage bill because of “Article 1, Section 3 of the Wyoming Constitution,” which she read to reporters and includes an anti-discriminatory clause.

“That’s why we call ourselves the Equality State,” she added.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the bill “makes sense” and “provides important religious freedom protections.”

“While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law of the land that LGBTQ people have relied on,” Romney said in a statement. “This legislation provides certainty for many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress — and I — value and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”

This story and headline were updated with additional developments on Tuesday.

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